summer solstice!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Epiphany 2C

the Gospel According to John

The latest of the 4 canonical gospels, compiled between 90 and 110.

John gives us a different worldview from the synoptics Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

This John most likely is John the son of Zebedee, brother of Peter and James, the "beloved disciple," the youngest guy in Leonardo's Last Supper painting. More accurately, this gospel comes out of John's community, the people who surrounded John.

In the beginning was the Word, the logos, a Greek concept that connotes both origins (where this came from) and immanence (what this might become).

John brings us the most explicit new creation

• John 1:1 "In the beginning" echoes Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God"

• John 19:30 "it is finished" echoes Genesis 2:2 – "And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done"

• John 19:41-42 Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

• John 20:1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.

• The first day of the week is the eighth day of creation, the first day of the New Creation.

• The garden of resurrection becomes the new garden of Eden.


John brings us seven signs and seven "I am" statements. Seven is the number of perfection in Hebrew numerology.

seven signs

1. Changing water into wine – 2:1-11

2. Healing the official's son in Capernaum – 4:46-54

3. Healing the paralytic at the Bethesda pool – 5:1-18

4. Feeding 5,000 – 6:5-14

5. Jesus' walking on water – 6:16-24

6. Healing the man born blind – 9:1-7

7. Raising of Lazarus – 11:1-45

In Matthew and Luke we hear about John the Baptist in jail telling his followers to go back and ask Jesus "are you the one who is to come, or do we need to look for someone else?" Jesus responds, "Go and tell John what you see and hear: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them." Luke 7:22; Matthew 11:5

John's seven signs show us these events.

seven I am declarations

1. The Bread Of Life – 6:35

2. The Light Of The World – 8:12

3. The Gate – 10:9

4. The Good Shepherd – 10:11

5. The Resurrection And The Life – 11:25-26

6. The Way, The Truth, And The Life – 14:6

7. The Vine – 15:5


sign and symbol

A sign, symbol directs or points to a place, event, person, or idea, but is not that location or event itself. Street signs. As a designer, what I de-sign interprets and points the viewer to something else—a product, an event, an idea. I sometimes design a logo.

The word for "sign" in John 2:11 is where we get "semiotic" = signs, symbols, meaning-making



John 2:1-11

1On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." 4And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." 5His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." 6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward." So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now." 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.


In the words of Tony Campolo: "The Kingdom of God is a party!"

For John, this wedding party opens Jesus' public ministry.

Cana is in Galilee, gentile territory, and a disreputable location known for thieves, rebels, and reprobates. Galilee became Jesus' home town. This wedding with Jesus' first sign (synoptic gospels would call it a miracle, but John wants everything to point to Jesus) happens among regular people, working class, possibly vintners who grew and harvested some of the grapes for this wine. This Jesus images a God who is not distant, but right at hand, who parties along with us, celebrates with us, shares in the fun. This is God's glory on earth!

Lots of discussion of Jesus and his mother; mother-son relationships in general. Jesus shows us how human and humanizing God is.

Tony Campolo: "The Kingdom of God is a party!"


After choir people left we mentioned the symbol of Zion in the first reading from Isaiah 62:1-5. At this time, the Jerusalem temple and the Davidic King were the primary symbols/signs of Zion. Later on Zion became the anywhere location of God's people; the American Puritans thought they'd establish Zion in New England; Latter-day Saints imagined Zion in the Utah wilderness. Other varied Zion (not necessary Zionist) movements, too. Pastor Richard's explanation about this text in his sermon. Also, what Pr. Richards told us about the Third Day – Tuesday – being especially for weddings.

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